November 4, 2009

Washington domestic partnership law passing; Maine same-sex marriage law losing

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rita_hibbardwebIt may be that if you call the union “marriage,” it loses at the ballot box. Washington voters are appearing to approve a domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage without the label, while Maine voters are turning down a gay marriage law.

The Washington domestic partnership ballot measure was leading narrowly statewide as ballots were counted Tuesday night, the Seattle Times reports, and leading strongly in King County returns. The measure, a referendum on a law passed earlier this year by the Legislature, was doing well in the metropolitan Puget Sound area, and being rejected in the more rural areas of eastern Washington.

The Maine vote is widely considered a stinging defeat to gay marriage advocates, especially because it occurred in New England, which has been more receptive to other areas of the country to same-sex unions. It follows on the heels of a similar pattern in California, where voters overturned a gay marriage law at the ballot box last year.

The New York Times reports:

“With the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Five other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — have legalized same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action.

— Rita Hibbard

2 thoughts on “Washington domestic partnership law passing; Maine same-sex marriage law losing

  1. I hope you don’t mind an outsider’s point of view.

    In Canada, we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect the rights of minorities, and do not allow the will of the majority to trample the rights of the minority. Just because a view is widely-held doesn’t mean that it is right (just look at historical support in some states for things like slavery, miscegenation laws, segregation, etc.).

    Has the legalization of same-sex marriage undermined opposite-sex marriage in Canada? No. The things that undermine opposite-sex marriage continue to be adultery, boredom, abuse, lack of communication, taking each of for granted, ease of divorce, and the blurring of the distinctions between common law (opposite-sex) relationships and marriages. These existed long before same-sex marriages were legalized.

    Achieving equal rights for people who are gay, lesbian, or transgendered is the civil rights issue of our era, just as rights for women and rights for people of colour have been the civil rights focus of past eras (not to say that either of those issues has been fully resolved). The idea that it’s good enough to allow a “separate but equal” form of marriage is no more valid than it was to base segragation on the “separate but equal” doctrine.

    Many people who were on the wrong side of history in the battles against segregation, miscegenation, etc., have come to realize that prejudices had blinded them to what was right. I am hopeful that in time, acceptance and equal treatment of people attracted to others of the same sex will become a reality for the friends I have in the United States.

    I am not gay myself, but you don’t have to be gay to stand up for gay rights. Many men have supported women’s efforts to achieve equal rights. White men and woman stood up with people of colour in the civil rights era. Justice for gay men and women will not be achieved in the United States until more straight men and women are willing to stand up for the rights of those who are different from them.

    When this all gets recorded in the history books, which side of the issue will you be on?

  2. Why cant both sides compromise? A compromise is when neither side gets exactly what they want, but they are both satisfied with the result. This is what is missing in American politics. I think the civil union is a good compromise. The conservatives want to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and dont want homosexuals to have the same rights. Gay marriage supporters want the same rights and want to define marriage as between any 2 people. So why not give them the same rights but not call it marriage? Washington seems to be the only state which has taken this route and it seems to be the only state where it has worked. Maybe supporters of both sides should learn something from this.